31 May 2001
Rushed referendum means public is uninformed Government should prepare for NO vote to Nice
Speaking at a Sinn Fein press conference this morning Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
``With exactly a week to go before the vote on the Nice Treaty it is clear that many people remain insufficiently informed of the issues involved. This is because the government has insisted on rushing the referendum even though the Nice Treaty does not have to be decided on until 2002.
``The Taoiseach has stated that we need a debate on the future of Europe - but after the Nice referendum. The Labour Party has called for a Forum on Europe - but again after the referendum. This is ludicrous. We obviously do need public information and public debate on the future of the EU, including the full implications of the Nice Treaty. But that must happen before we vote on a Treaty which fundamentally alters the way the EU is governed.
``The Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen have claimed that we would face `national humiliation' and that the Treaty could not and would not be renegotiated if we vote NO. That is an outrageous claim. If the people Vote NO then the government has a mandate to renegotiate. If this is not the case why are we having a referendum? The people cannot be treated like a rubber stamp.
``The government should be prepared for a NO vote. In that event a new Treaty will have to be renegotiated. We argue that this needs to happen because the Nice Treaty increases the democratic deficit in the EU.
``It is important to remember that this is not a plebiscite on the Nice Treaty. It is a constitutional referendum which means that the government is asking us to write approval for the Nice Treaty into the Constitution. It is vital therefore that all the implications of the Treaty are understood.
``Instead of hurling insults at NO campaigners the government should address the legitimate points which we have raised.
``For the sake of Irish democracy, for the sake of Irish neutrality, for the sake of a better Europe for all the nations I urge the electorate to Vote No to Nice on June 7th.''
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